Risk of heart disease raised in patients with diabetes, says research by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology

Cyclophilin A, a type of protein, pinpointed as potential drug target

January 17, 2022 08:10 pm | Updated January 18, 2022 09:10 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Researchers at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here have published findings that could help reduce the risk of heart disease in patients with diabetes.

The researchers have pinpointed Cyclophilin A, a protein that plays a role in several diseases in humans, as a potential drug target for reducing heart disease risk in such patients.

Heart attacks result from the rupture of cholesterol plaque deposited on artery walls. A tear or rupture activates a repairing mechanism resulting in a blood clot. Such clots can block blood flow to the heart muscle, causing a heart attack.

"Patients with diabetes mellitus have increased risk of vascular disease and are prone to such ruptures. Our research has shown that Cyclophilin A plays a major role in increasing the risk," Dr. Surya Ramachandran, a programme scientist with the Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes Biology lab, RGCB, was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the RGCB.

Inhibitors of Cyclophilin A would have potential use in reducing a person’s vulnerability to heart attacks induced by plaque rupture, she said.

RGCB director Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana said the research findings with regard to the role played by Cyclophilin A will provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular diseases. It will help in risk detection and development of novel pharmacological therapies, he said.

The findings have been published in Cells , an international journal on cell biology.

Cyclophilin A impairs the process of prompt and efficient clearance of cells that have been programmed to die, resulting in rapid plaque formation in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus, said Dr. Ramachandran. Clearing the dead cells is critical for inflammation resolution in patients with cardiovascular risks.

'Eat-me' signals

The dying cells express ‘eat-me’ signals on their surface to attract macrophages, a type of white blood cell that removes dead cells. Cyclophilin A can induce programmed cell death of macrophages, which interferes with the natural process of “burying’‘ of the dead cells.

Dr. Ramachandran said the research findings can lead to a reduction in the risk of heart disease in patients with diabetes.

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